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LONDON, England – Author, futurist and cyber thinker William Gibson once said “The future is here. It’s just not widely distributed yet.” And here at Nokia Conversations, we’re fully paid subscribers to that point of view. Here are our three big predictions for what 2011 will hold for mobile technology, and they’re all technologies that are in existence, but just aren’t quite as popular now as they will be next year.

[A guest post from Marcus Austin, principal of Business Mobile]

Mobile visual search/Augmented reality

In the next year we’re going to see a lot of augmented reality, it’s been around for the last few years, but we think 2011 is finally going to be the year it and it’s spin offs such as mobile visual search really takes off.

Mobile visual search has definitely come of age, applications that allow you to point your phones camera at barcodes to get price comparison data are everywhere. However the problem is scanning barcodes and QR codes is limited to objects with bar codes. The next stage is to cut out the middleman, and search on the actual object. Visual search allows you to point your camera at any object be it a building, a car, or a kettle and get a result. With visual search the world becomes a salesroom. Point your camera at a parked car and it’ll tell you if it’s for sale, the price, the mileage, and when it’s next MOT is due, or it will tell you where the nearest garage is where you can buy a similar model. Point your camera at a book, kettle etc. in a shop and you’ll get the cheapest price online to use as a bargaining tool.

Analysts at Juniper Research also agree that augmented reality is going to be big in 2011, in it’s Top Ten Wireless Predictions 2011 it predicts that augmented reality will be used extensively in retailing where it’s “potential to geotag products or locations with brand/campaign-specific information”. Gamers should also be happy as Juniper expect to see “an increasing number of AR-based games.”

Contactless payments

Next year will see the start of mobile contactless payment systems using near-field communication (NFC). In London millions of users already use an NFC card every day in their Oyster card, and that convenience is coming to mobile. For users the beauty of NFC is that enables them to throw away their wallets, however the technology can do much more. To a business it’s a loyalty card, an ID card, and the passport to a long customer relationship.

Jupiter expects 2011 to be the year “when, in some countries at least, using your phone as a credit card for lower value purchases will become a reality.” However they warn that it won’t happen overnight as “stores need to deploy contactless readers, and more problematically, it is dependent on user preference.”

Jupiter also expects mobile Banking will become a “must-have” when opening a new account, which leads us into our last prediction which is mobile voice biometric systems.

Voice Biometrics

Many users are concerned over security and mobile, particularly when it comes to the security of storing sensitive information on their mobile handsets. But there’s one new technology that may help get mobile users to start buying goods with their mobile phone, and that’s voice biometrics.

According to Citibank Australia CEO Roy Gori, using an individual’s voiceprint for security purposes can be more accurate than any other means of identification, while also making obsolete the typical series of log-in passwords and questions for users resulting in increased ease-of-use and consequently, adoption.

What do you think? Will augmented reality, NFC and voice biometrics be big technologies in 2011, or are there some technologies that you think are going to be even bigger?